Abbas out to jump start peace process

Plans to lay groundwork during PM, Rice meeting; will mention Mughrabi works.

Abbas 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Abbas 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday he hoped an upcoming meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would jump start a permanent peace process. Abbas, who met with his Egyptian counterpart in Cairo, said the Feb. 19 meeting with Rice and Olmert would "lay the features of the road to start the permanent peace process." He also said the meeting would help the so-called Quartet play a more active role in promoting Mideast peace in their meeting in Berlin on Feb. 21. But Abbas declined to say whether he thought the United States and Israel would accept an accord he signed with his rival, Hamas, establishing a Palestinian coalition government. The new government "should commit itself to it in spirit and letter without going into details, expressing other opinion or elaborating about this issue," Abbas told reporters. Since the deal was signed late Thursday in the Saudi city of Mecca, Palestinian officials have been trying to persuade the international community to embrace the deal and lift crippling sanctions on their government. Olmert said Sunday his government had "urgent consultations" over the weekend about the deal, but had not decided whether to reject or accept the agreements. Abbas also said he would also raise with Olmert and Rice Israel's construction work on a ramp leading to a disputed holy site in Jerusalem. The work has been met by violent Palestinian protests and objections from Arab countries and the Muslim world. Abbas, who said he and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak coordinated efforts in preparation for the Feb. 19 meeting, was scheduled to arrive in Amman, Jordan later Sunday and was expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin there on Tuesday.